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The African Development Bank Group (AfDB) and the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) held high-level discussions in Abidjan on Thursday, November 20 with a view to addressing challenges faced by Africa’s smallholder farmers.
Both institutions have agreed to strengthen their cooperation to speed up Africa’s agriculture transformation.
AfDB and AGRA discussed some of the most pressing constraints to the development of African agriculture, including access to inputs and fertilizers, finance and credit, storage, extension, markets, etc., through improved infrastructure and systems, value addition, market access, institutional capacity and training, public and private investments.
“Agriculture is at the heart of AfDB’s strategy, said AfDB Vice-President in charge of Agriculture, Water, Human Development, Governance and Natural Resources. “We consider agriculture as a vehicle for inclusive and sustainable economic transformation, and eradicating poverty and hunger. I am not just speaking about growth, but quality growth, that is inclusive and which leaves no one behind,” said Aly Abou-Sabaa.
Over the past 50 years of its operation, the Bank has invested close to US $100 billion in development projects in Africa, of which $12 billion in agriculture.
Through its Strategy for 2013-2022, AfDB is supporting a number of broad interventions to assist in addressing Africa’s agricultural and food security challenges. It is heavily investing in rural infrastructure, and linking farmers to markets. It is also contributing to the long-term capitalization of the agriculture sector especially benefitting infrastructure development along the value chain for promoting sustainable agricultural production systems. It is also funding agricultural research and technology development.
Agnes Kalibata, the President of AGRA, also recognized the importance of infrastructure development to help millions of people improve their living conditions. “As Rwanda’s former Minister of Agriculture, I can testify the pivotal role of feeder roads,” she said. “What is the value of surplus if you cannot sell your produce?” she asked.
AGRA’s President also made the case for improved capacity-building programmes. “The lack of knowledge undermines the sector,” she said.
AfDB Director for Agriculture, Chiji Ojukwu, emphasized the opportune timing for “both institutions to collaborate on post-Ebola rural livelihoods rehabilitation support.”
Africa’s smallholder farmers, the majority of whom are women, provide up to 80% of food in Sub-Saharan Africa. But more than 90% of Africa’s agriculture is low-input low-output, depends on rainfall and most smallholders work on plots of two hectares or less. Africa remains the region with the highest prevalence of undernourishment, with around one in four people under-nourished, and Sub-Saharan Africa being the worst affected.
However, Africa’s agriculture sector is also rife with opportunities including vast natural resources, which if well exploited, could enable the continent not only to feed itself, but also sustain the livelihoods of millions of Africans.
AGRA was established in September 2006 with initial support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation, and subsequently, the UK Department for International Development (DFID). AGRA is an Africa-based and African-led organization working with its partners to help millions of smallholder farmers and their families lift themselves out of poverty and hunger. The African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) is a multi-stakeholder partnership effort led and coordinated by AGRA.